CLEVELAND — Cheers of, “Miami still sucks,” rang out from the Ohio Bobcats pep band at the Quicken Loans Arena on Friday afternoon.
While a team that finishes 13-6 in the Mid-American Conference and 23-8 overall is hardly bad, today wasn’t the RedHawks’ day.
They were downed by No. 2 Ohio 74-48 in the MAC Tournament semifinals, eliminating them from the competition.
“Tremendous job by Ohio today,” MU head coach Megan Duffy said. “Their defense was almost stifling, at times, for us. A lot of the things we were trying to get better at, from the first two games against them, we weren’t able to execute. And, then, just the balance of them scoring — can’t say enough about what they did to take us out of so many things, both on the offensive end and defensive end.”
Just like Miami’s men’s basketball team in its loss at Akron on Monday, the RedHawks couldn’t find an offensive groove. They shot 31.3 percent from the the field and 15 percent from deep against the Bobcats.
The combination of 17 turnovers and a defense that surrendered 74 points proved to be a lethal injection for Miami’s MAC Tournament life.
“Their defense is really tough,” senior forward Kristen Levering said. “We had a hard time handling it, just with our passes. We had a lot of turnovers. Then, when we tried to hit our shots, sometimes it just didn’t fall.”
Only Kendall McCoy, with her 10 points, reached double figures in scoring for the RedHawks. No other Miami player tallied more than seven.
Junior guard Lauren Dickerson, typically an offensive dynamo, struggled through a 2-for-20 shooting performance and recorded just five points.
Ohio started quickly, scoring 16 points and holding the RedHawks to just eight in the first five minutes.
Even though Miami won the tipoff, the Bobcats struck first, with a 3-pointer by redshirt freshman forward Erica Johnson.
The two teams battled to six apiece, before Ohio went on a 10-2 run to take firm control of the first quarter. It ended the period ahead 22-14.
Junior forward Abbey Hoff got the RedHawks on the board on their second possession of the second quarter.
But the Bobcats answered with a 12-1 stretch that made their point total double Miami’s at 34-17.
The RedHawks ended the half with a 6-2 run, but Ohio took a 36-23 lead into intermission.
After halftime, the already-reeling ’Hawks fell apart.
In the teams’ first two matchups this year, the Bobcats led by double-digits at half, before Miami stormed back in the third quarter to make it close. This game was different.
The RedHawks shot 3-for-15 from the field and lost the third quarter 23-9. The Bobcats opened the period with a 19-3 run, during which they hit three 3-pointers and made four free throws.
Miami finished with six of the quarter’s final 12 points, which, as an even 6-6 split, can almost be considered a RedHawk run in a game like this.
With Ohio leading 59-32 going into the fourth, the contest was already well in hand.
The Bobcats kept up their momentum and closed out a 74-48 win. They advance to the MAC Championship game against No. 4 Buffalo.
Ohio made an identical 45.5 percent from the field and from three.
Miami won the rebounding battle 40-38.
Hoff, Levering and junior forward Savannah Kluesner tied for second on the team with seven points each. Levering and McCoy each had a team-high nine boards.
Five Bobcats had at least 10 points. Johnson led the way with a game-high 18 points. She completed the contest’s only double-double with 10 rebounds.
“[Johnson] hit some incredible shots from 3-point land,” Duffy said. “She got to the rim. She just has a swagger about herself and is going to be in this league for many more years. She complements the rest of their players so well. We didn’t have an answer.”
The RedHawks finish the season 1-2 against Ohio. In the teams’ first two meetings, the average margin of victory was five points.
Miami now awaits a possible postseason tournament bid.
“We’re really optimistic and really excited, just looking back overall, with how this season has gone,” McCoy said. “Hopefully, we can get some kind of postseason and, moving forward, just get better from this game.”